Des chercheurs qui cherchent, on en trouve. Des chercheurs qui trouvent, on en cherche.
-- Charles De Gaulle
I came across an intriguing discussion, taking place in the forum of one of the major universities in Bulgaria since a few years. A group of students, researchers and one professor have been arguing whether bioinformatics education and research are justified, meaningful, promising or even possible at this university. The quest for something beyond the state-of-the-art in any scientific field should be of course supported and encouraged at our best. Unfortunately there's only weak evidence supporting professor’s unconvincing claim that this is already happening to some extent in his bioinformatics group in this particular university. In fact, science is not only about grants, positions and papers, it is also (and mainly) about carrying out real research and obtaining valuable results from these activities. It is about bringing together teams of skilled scientists, building and testing new theories, making discoveries, all of which are notoriously absent in many universities and research institutes nowadays.
A nice illustration of some beyond the state-of-the-art bioinformatics research are the activities of Craig Venter's institute, which employs over 400 people, including Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith. As Craig Venter explains, while being interviewed by Richard Dawkins, imagination plays a substantial role in science, especially in bioinformatics. When you couple imagination with scientific excellence and adequate infrastructure, research and real breakthroughs become possible. The high quality uncut version of this interview, taken at Craig Venter's institute premises, provides also a glimpse at the infrastructure, which supports and enables these breakthroughs: